Easy Recipe for Barmbrack  bairín breac (speckled bread) , an essential ingredient for Halloween, the pagan harvest festival of Samhain,  celebrated with fruit, nuts, colcannon and of course Barmbrack

370 gm mixed dry fruit .. I happen to have a lot of cranberries in the house.

225 gm flour.

Or Gluten free..125 gm oat flour & 100 gm gluten free flour.

125 gm brown sugar

Soak the fruit over night…(use tea or whiskey if you want to be super traditional) then mix all ingredients together.

Works very well gluten free…just replace the flour with half oat flour & half gluten free flour.

Preheat the oven to 170C/340°/Gas Mark 3, and grease and line a 900g loaf tin.

Spoon the mixture in, and bake for one hour on the middle shelf

You can add a ring to the mix and whoever finds it will get married soon, a coin means you’ll be rich,

You’re meant to keep it for a couple of days before eating but we had to have a taste…..


Corn and Courgette Fritters with Avocado Salsa

This is such an easy recipe, and it tastes delicious – make double quantities, as they will all be coming back for more!

50g melted butter                                       125mls milk

120g flour                                                     2 eggs beaten lightly with fork

210g sweet corn                                         240g courgette, grated

Salsa:    3 medium tomatoes, chopped                  2 medium avocados, chopped

               ½ small red onion, chopped or 6 spring onions, chopped

               2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander     2 tbsp lime juice

Combine butter, milk, flour and egg in a medium bowl, whisk until smooth. Add sweet corn and courgette, mix well.

Heat oil in medium frying pan. Cook heaped tbsp of batter one at a time, about 2min each side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Serve with salsa.

Salsa: combine ingredients in a small bowl 

Although October is World Vegetarian Month, my next Vegetarian Practical Cookery Class is in January – Come Along!



In Ireland flour is typically made from soft wheat which have starchy kernels and less gluten. The many American visitors who come to learn how to cook traditional Irish food at my cookery school in Dublin, or come on my Irish gourmet tours, once they try to recreate the recipe at home have to find a cake or pastry flour (made from soft wheat), which has lower levels of gluten than an American bread flour.

The division between Ulster and the rest of Ireland is so profound that in Ulster soda bread that is made with wholemeal flour is known as wheaten bread and normally sweetened, while the term “soda bread” is restricted to the white savoury form, whilst in the rest of Ireland soda bread is normally brown. This has led to some pretty serious misunderstandings with Ulster born chefs and restaurant managers in some of the places around the World where I have given Irish food demonstrations! This is the version of soda bread that I like best.

500g wholemeal flour 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda 1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp brown sugar 120g walnuts, chopped 900mls buttermilk

Pre-heat oven 190oC/380oF/Gas 5. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the butter milk. Shape into a round, cut across on the top and place on a floured baking tray. Cook for 45 minutes, it should sound hollow. For a soft crust, wrap in a clean tea-towel while hot.


This is a cake I make for all occasions – quick, easy, foolproof and much loved by my family. Traditionally the name comes from the fact that, being dark in colour, it is the antithesis of the white or yellow angel food cake.

  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 225g butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 60g cocoa
  • 290mls milk
  • 2 eggs


  • 500g icing sugar
  • 60g butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 60g cocoa
  • 150mls milk/cream
    Pre-heat oven to 150oC/300oF/Gas mark 2

Line your baking tin with melted butter and flour. Sift dry ingredients. In a jug, place your milk, vinegar and eggs and beat with a fork, add to the dry ingredients (the mixture should be very runny). Bake in oven for 1 hour.

Sift icing sugar and cocoa in to a bowl, add melted butter, egg yolk and 2-4 tbsp milk.